Keeping Our Promise on the Great Lakes
Michigan is surrounded by the largest system of fresh water on Earth. The Great Lakes hold a full 95 percent of the fresh surface water in the United States. The Lakes literally define Michigan. They are a priceless and irreplaceable natural resource.
But for many years the Lakes have been at growing risk from sewage, toxic chemicals, loss of wetlands, as well as invasive species like the Asian carp.
The federal government needs to be a full partner in helping to restore the Great Lakes. When Barack Obama was running for President in 2008, one of his most important campaign promises was to provide $5 billion over ten years to restore the Great Lakes. I am working to make sure this promise it kept.
Shortly after taking office, President Obama called for a long-term effort to clean up and restore the Great Lakes. The program is called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Sandy is one of a trio of House lawmakers – the other two being John Dingell and Louise Slaughter of New York – who have led the effort to win funding for the GLRI, securing over a billion dollars for the effort over the last three years. This money is now being put to work to address longstanding problems in the Great Lakes, including invasive species, non-point pollution, habitat and fisheries loss, and contaminated sediment.
Restoring the Great Lakes must be a sustained effort. The $1 billion Congress has approved so far is an important step, but it was only a first down payment. Now more than ever, it is critical that the President and Congress work together to restore the Great Lakes and protect all our natural resources.
Sandy Levin Earns Top Marks from Environmental Groups
There are 435 members of the House of Representatives. Each and every one of them claims to be a friend of the environment. But when it comes to actually voting to protect the environment, some lawmakers are better at talking the talk than walking the walk.
When it comes to the environment, actions speak louder than words.
In the recent Clean Water Action congressional scorecard, Sandy Levin earned a perfect 100% on 12 key environmental votes to protect our air, water and health.
Earlier this year, another environmental group – The League of Conservation Voters – released its 2011 National Environmental Scorecard. As noted in the LCV report, “the Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be scored.”
The 2011 National Environmental Scorecard included a record 35 House votes on issues ranging from public health protections to clean energy to land and wildlife. The average score for House members from Michigan was 43 percent. Sandy Levin scored 91% for his votes to protect the environment.
Restoring Lake St. Clair
The Great Lakes are an irreplaceable natural resource, but we have not always treated them as though they were very great. Nowhere is this more evident than in Lake St. Clair, which is one of the more heavily used portions of the Great Lakes in terms of fishing, boating and drinking water. In 1994, a rash of beach closings due to high E. coli contamination galvanized public attention to the health of this vital ecosystem.
In Congress, Sandy Levin has been a leader in the effort to focus federal attention and resources on cleaning up Lake St. Clair. He sought and obtained federal funding to expand the treatment capacity of the George W. Kuhn Drain, which previously had poured billions of gallons of partially treated sewage into the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair every year.
When the Economic Recovery Act was being developed by Congress, Sandy Levin fought to include new federal resources to fund Clean Water infrastructure. Since then, $8.4 million in Recovery funds are being deployed to help resolve longstanding problems in sewer systems adjoining the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair. He also convinced the Army Corps of Engineers to provide $3.8 million in Recovery Act funds to reduce pollution and sedimentation in the Red Run Drain, a key tributary of the Clinton River.
In 2005, at the direction of Congress, the Corps of Engineers completed a comprehensive management plan for Lake St. Clair, and a committee of local stakeholders has since been working to implement the more than 100 recommendations contained in the Corps’ blueprint. Both on the local level as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Lake St. Clair, as well as in Washington, Sandy has spearheaded an effort to push ahead with the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for Lake St. Clair and its watershed. The SIP will be finalized later this year.